Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Stage Fright And I
I got away from playing the guitar for people for well over 15 years. Mostly it was becaus my photography career took over. It was just as well because even though I love the music and the guitar, I was never comfortable with performing. The nervousness was terrible. Playing in a noisy bar or at a private party was one thing, even playing in a wedding ceremony wasn't too bad because the focus was not on me. Every time I got into a situation where I was the focus of attention the stage fright was horrible. I think back about performing in a Christopher Parkening master class in front of all the other student guitarists and I wonder how I ever got through it. This has always bothered me because I want to be in CONTROL of my thoughts and actions. I want to overcome stage fright, or "performance anxiety" which some call it. There are two key things in doing so. You must know your material and you must go out and perform as much as possible. In the past four years I have been re-learning my repertoire and putting myself out there playing in front of people again. Last December I played a gig at a musicians Christmas party. All eyes were on me as I played about a 20 minute set. I fumbled in the usual spots in some of the songs, played most of them OK. The listeners LOVED it. I got some really good feedback. However, I was a nervous wreck. I was sweating so much it flowed off my face and into my eyes with a burning sensation. Profuse sweating. I remember experiencing that years ago. On other occasions my hands would shake. Sometimes both would occur. Three Summers ago I played an outdoor lunchtime concert in down town Watertown. I thought people would be sitting around eating their lunch and chatting. I was not prepared for what I got: Everyone sitting quietly, hanging on every note I played. My mind was racing with ways I could excuse myself and flee. The worst part of it was I had to fill up two whole hours! Yikes. But I got through it. Each time gets a little better.